Are you a parent or guardian wondering when you should allow your child to have social media? Here are some tips from a parent’s perspective, things to watch for, and social media risks.
Now that our daughter is a teenager, the topic of social media comes up every so often. She’ll ask when she can have TikTok or Snapchat because it’s what all her friends are using at school. During the pandemic, we let her have TikTok because she wanted to learn how to use Procreate and wanted to watch art videos. After a couple of weeks, we started to notice that she was consuming more than just art videos and tutorials, and her attitude started to change. It was a subtle change, but she was being exposed to content that was too mature for her, and it was starting to show. So we took TikTok away.
Why We Won’t Let Our Kids Have Social Media
There are many positive sides to using social media, as well as many negative sides to the online world. According to ExpressVPN, the average time 13-year-olds spend on social media is around 45 minutes daily. So it is important to understand the pros and cons of kids using social media. Here are my examples:
Pros of Kids Using Social Media
Socialization – Kids can keep in contact with friends and family or even make new friends. It gives them the human interaction that we all crave so much.
Learn – Kids can learn new skills, hobbies, and information.
Explore – Kids can explore new places right at home.
Fun – Social media can be a fun place with silly dances and funny videos.
Fosters Creative Expression – Does your child have something they love to do or are passionate about? Gaming, art, cooking, etc.? Social media can be a good tool to learn more about it and get new ideas.
Connections with people with similar “issues” – Social can be great for connecting with others who have a similar illness or are going through a similar life change or struggle. They can talk with someone who understands what they’re going through, get and give advice, and build a community of friends.
Cons of Kids Using Social Media
Children using social media can come with social media risks. Here are some things to watch out for.
Cyberbullying – It’s hard enough being a kid at school and getting bullied there, but social media opens you up to even more people where bullying can take place. It also makes bullying easier since people can hide behind a profile, whether it’s from school peers or strangers on the internet.
Internet Addiction – Social Media has been proven to be addicting and something even adults struggle with. In a child who lacks impulse control, social media addiction can become a real issue.
Social Isolation – While kids are interacting with people online, it can still be isolating and cause people not to want to interact face to face.
Inappropriate Content – Kids can be exposed to inappropriate content such as p0rn, violence, extreme views, and more.
Online Predators – Online predators use social media, online games, and forums to sexually exploit kids, traffick them, and more. They can pose as kids, befriend them, and then get their personal information or get them to meet up.
Fake Lives – A lot of people only post the good aspects of their lives on social media, or they over-exaggerate their life to make them seem better than it is. Showing off fancy shoes, clothing, or cars while racking up debt, faking relationships, or living a “perfect” life. All of these things can cause jealousy or make people feel the need to do the same so that they’re “keeping up with the Joneses”.
How to Know Your Child Is Ready For Social Media
You know your child best, but some ways to know if they’re old enough or ready for social media are:
Are they old enough to meet the social media TOS age?
Do you have an open and honest relationship with your child? This is important so they can communicate with you if anything is going bad on social media. This also helps if/when you check their socials to know they’re being honest with you about what they’re doing online. Will your child tell you they’re being bullied or harassed?
When asked, 76% of parents agree that they are the ones most responsible for teaching young children how to stay away from social media and how to protect themselves online.
Is your child responsible? Can you trust them to be online and protect their personal information, not to meet up with strangers, and only consume content that is age appropriate?
Does your child struggle with stepping away from video games or other things? If your child has a hard time stepping away from video games, they could also struggle with a social media addiction.
How will you manage social media as a parent? Will you monitor their phone with an app or set parental controls to say how long they can access social media and what they can access? Will you regularly check their social media profiles? Will you share an account with them or follow their accounts? These are things to consider before letting your child have access to social media.
As a parent, you know your child best. If you have an open relationship with your kids, then you know their strengths, weaknesses, triggers they may have, and what they could